Thursday, August 11, 2016


Before we even got pregnant we called our next baby Claire Bear, but after I was pregnant I knew she wasn’t Claire. We started calling her Busy Izzy, but after a few weeks Izzy didn’t feel quite right. We spent the first twelve hours of labor talking about calling her Jane or Amy or a dozen other names.

My dad wanted to name all three of his sons Phillip, but it never happened. As they got closer to the due date, my brothers felt less like Phillips and more like Steve, Sam, and Spencer. When I was pregnant with Jack people asked if we had any names picked out, and I responded that we would call him Jack, unless he came out and wasn’t a Jack. You know how people say, “Oh he was born, and we just knew he was a Michael!”

“He’s a Michael,” or “He’s not a Jack.” What does that even mean? Before I had kids, all babies were the same. They all had the same newborn/old man look. All their cries sounded the same. They all acted with the same bewildering babyness. Phrases like, “He looks so much like his dad,” or “That’s my kid crying in the hall,” made no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine a world where someone could discern a baby’s name by sight.

Naming your child, to me, was just imaging the person they might eventually become. There’s a poem I love that concludes,
Naming the baby is a way
of dreaming about a creature who is
almost but not quite. It is a way of
imagining the soul of a person you
are making but have not made.
The name is the first way you see
the baby: their title, the syllables
that conjure a shape from the lantern.
I’m not saying the process is without romance or magic, but for me, it certainly wasn’t a mystical insight into who that child would actually be.

But for all my disbelief, our daughter is Zoe. I knew it when she was born.

I can’t explain it, but when we met her, there was only one name. It wasn’t anywhere near our list of possible names. And it wasn’t just the person I hoped she would be one day. It wasn’t just a name I could bare to repeat interminably. She is Zoe. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how it’s possible for a mother to know. But I know it still.

b perry

1 comment:

  1. What happened was this: your inner soul connected to mine in that birthing of your second child and first daughter. We will forever be linked through our past and future now. BEST DAY EVER!


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